A View From Ringside – Destruction in Hiroshima By Kevin Kelly



A View From Ringside – Destruction in Hiroshima By Kevin Kelly

The threat of a typhoon looming offshore and the energy for Saturday’s Destruction event in Hiroshima was unique to say the least.

Threatened by Suzuki-Gun, poised to win as many as four championships, the Destruction tour and the future of NJPW could have taken a very dark turn.

Pairing Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii on opposite sides of a 10 man tag, all the elements were there for spontaneous combustion.

These factors and more led to an entertaining event that set the table for Sunday in Kobe and King of Pro-Wrestling as well. Here’s my thoughts from the best seat in the house.

A quick thought before a review of Hiroshima. How is Kenny Omega going to come back from knee surgery so quickly and defend his US title successfully against Juice Robinson Sunday in Kobe? More on that later.

They say the Opening match sets the tone for the show. Saturday’s opener was crisp and brisk with YOSHI-HASHI getting the victory for the CHAOS team.

And the main event was as good as it gets. I absolutely loved Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr. It had everything the wrestling fan in me wanted to see and now it’s the Ace versus the Golden Star, probably at King of Pro-Wrestling. It’s nice to see Kota smiling in NJPW.

Juice Robinson and David Finley look smooth and energetic as a tag team as well. I would be surprised if they are not a part of World Tag League. Of course, if Juice is victorious on Sunday vs Kenny Omega and becomes the US Champion, his plate might be full for the end of the year.

And yes, it is obvious that Kenny Omega is an incredible athlete, perhaps one of the best of all time. But is it a stretch to believe that Kenny will be close to 100% on Sunday in Kobe? Depending on the severity of the meniscus tear and subsequent procedure, recuperation could be lengthy. Did Omega shorten his rehabilitation in order to guarantee his fans the title match he promised in Kobe?

And isn’t it ironic that Juice Robinson, who battled knee injuries throughout the G1, now gets to face Kenny Omega, who is dealing with a knee issue of his own?

I’ll write more about EVIL vs Okada at King of Pro-Wrestling in the weeks to come but while Naito has said he wants to wrestle his LIJ mate on January 4th, if EVIL beats Okada, wouldn’t it be possible the title match would fall out of the main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom?

I was sad to call Roppongi Vice’s final tag team match but I am excited for the prospect of what lies ahead for both Beretta and Rocky Romero. Just what is Roppongi 3K?

Chase Owens does not get enough credit for how much he has improved this calendar year. He has a unique offense of style and brings an old-school toughness into every match.

I also believe Leo Tonga will be a big star in New Japan if he continues on the same track as we saw Saturday. Far from a finished product, the tallest athlete in NJPW has all the tools to be a main eventer.

Yujiro Takahashi has been a thorn in the side of Beretta this entire tour. A former Junior heavyweight himself, Takahashi knows making the leap to heavyweight does not guarantee automatic success. But if he pokes the bear, Beretta will bite. They meet Sunday in Kobe in an important singles test for Beretta.

It looks as if Togi Makabe and Minoru Suzuki will meet again very soon. In an interview conducted right after the match on Saturday, Makabe said he is “the gatekeeper of New Japan” and doesn’t like how Suzuki acts as if he runs the place. The GBH pioneer leads a NJPW team into 10-man tag action in Kobe against Suzuki-Gun.

The Guerrillas of Destiny have now been screwed out of the Tag Team titles twice. First in Long Beach, War Machine was able to get their match changed to a no-disqualification contest just before the bell, which certainly had an effect on the outcome.

On Saturday in Hiroshima, Tama Tonga and his brother Tonga Loa hit Guerrilla Warfare on Ray Rowe but were not the legal team in the Triple Threat match.

Now Sunday in Kobe, it’s War Machine versus the Guerrillas of Destiny versus Killer Elite Squad’s Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr., but this time under Tornado Rules. With no tags and everyone being legal, these six men will settle it once and for all. Can the Sons of Haku make things right?

Kudos to the champs for picking up back-to-back wins but the pressure is on Hanson and Rowe. A win and they shut the door on their contenders.

Suzuki-Gun does not care about star ratings; they only care about results. And the results are at the Hiroshima event, Suzuki-Gun went 0-4 in their title matches. With Minoru Suzuki the only title holder in the group now, will New Japan Pro-Wrestling continue to be terrorized by this outfit? My guess is “yes” but time will run out if results don’t change in the future.

Don Callis will be back at ringside on Sunday and we will have all the coverage of the Destruction event live on NJPW World.

Rest in Peace, Bobby Heenan.